On Feb. 4, 2008, Tom Kitz began a courageous battle with the deadliest of all
Tom Kitz’s twin brother Tim, of Santa Monica. Calif.
major cancers – pancreatic cancer. Although the Oregon man lost his battle on March 4, of this year, many continue the fight, hopeful for a cure.
Last month, Tom’s family hosted the inaugural Tom Kitz Memorial Open at South Toledo Golf Club to honor his memory and raise funds for Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN).
The event raised just under $7,000. “The outing was an overwhelming success and we exceeded every goal, including attendance for golfers, dinner-only guests and most of all, funds raised,” said Barb Kitz, Tom’s wife of 31 years.
“In addition, we added another 15 names to Tom’s Army, a group of 150 family members, friends and colleagues that send e-mails and make telephone calls to elected officials asking for support on legislation affecting the funding of PC research,” she said.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, PanCAN notes. In 2009, an estimated 38,000 Americans will be diagnosed, and 36,100 will die from it.
Community support and private donations, such as those generated through the Tom Kitz memorial open, are critical to helping to stem the tide of the deadliest of all the major cancers, which has only a 5 percent survival rate. PanCAN’s research efforts are pursuing early detection tools and effective treatments.
“Part of what we are trying to do is raise awareness about this disease and to reach out to those whose lives are touched by it,” Kitz said.
“Thing is, PC doesn't touch your life, it slams it,” she added.
Kitz serves as the area affiliate coordinator for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which offers resources and support for patients and caregivers.
“We need action, too, not just fund-raisers,” Kitz said. “Rep. Marcy Kaptur was one of the early co-sponsors of HR 745, a House Resolution to allocate funding specifically for PC. I was in DC in March, four weeks after my husband died, to help PanCAN storm Capitol Hill urging support of this bill,” Kitz said.
The Ohio group visited every Ohio Congressional office and both Ohio Senators Ms. Kaptur agreed to co-sponsor that day because of all of the phone calls “Tom's Army” generated to her office that morning, Kitz added.
“Our democracy in action – it was sweet,” she said.
“Tom had a larger-than-life heart and caring nature. He would want us to continue this fight for those still facing this relentless enemy,” Kitz said. “He is dearly missed each and every day; this outing was a celebration of his life and an opportunity to change the lives of others.”
Sponsors for the event included W.K. Sujkowski Funeral Home; Coy, Konieczny & Peppel; First Federal of Oregon; Financial Design Group; Snyder Valuation; David Duncan; Duricek Auto; Gladieux Home Center; Bogey Busters Golf League; American Property Analysts; Ohio Roofing; Acapulco Ron Tanning Salon; Calphalon; Wilson Tile and Stone; HD Waterworks; George Ackerman Company and Sylvania Veterinary Hospital.
For more information about pancreatic cancer or to make a donation for research, visit http://pancan.org.
Tom Kitz’s twin brother Tim, of Santa Monica. Calif. and nephew and fund-raiser organizer Bryan Kitz of Maumee.